Page 482 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

CHAPTER
XVI
MACEDONIA
"DOl RAN, Y9'7," "MACEDONIA, 1915-18"
(Maps
10
&
1 ( )
12th Battalion
OVER TO MACEDONIA
THE
first appearance of British troops in the Balkans since detach-
12TH BN.
ments of crusaders marched that way in the twelfth century was due
to an Allied attempt to assist the Serbian armies in their desperate
fight against a combined Austrian and Bulgarian invasion in the
closing weeks of 1915.
The effort came too late to save Serbia from occupation, but a
powerful Serbian army was able to withdraw to Corfu. there to be
reorganized. and later to take part
in
the long-drawn and arduous
campaign which ended in the sweeping advance and final victory of
August. 1918.
The Regiment was represented
in
Macedonia by the 12th
(Service) Battalion. and this narrative will follow the fortunes of
that unit; the only Service Battalion to have the honour of earning.
alone. a battle honour for the Regimental Colours.
THE ADVANCE INTO SERBIA
The situation when the 12th Battalion. as a unit of the 65th
Brigade. 22nd Division. landed at Salonika on 5th November,
1915. was confused and dangerous. The 10th (Irish) Division and
three divisions of French troops were holding positions against a
powerful Bulgarian advance in the mountainous and roadless
country north of Lake Doiran some seventy miles up-country from
Salonika. Meanwhile two Greek corps were between them and
Salonika. and the attitude of the Greek government was uncertain
and indeed hostile. A withdrawal was therefore inevitable. and
as the 10th Division was closely engaged. the 65th Brigade was
ordered up from Salonika and reached Doiran on 9th December.
The 12th Battalion, whose only experience of war had been two
months in the trenches
in
France, soon found themselves involved
in
the most difficult of military operations, a rear-guard action.
The loth Division was withdrawing closely pressed and in some
confusion owing to the fog which enveloped the mountain tops and
enabled the Bulgarians to work up to close quarters. The French
445